I have recently been pondering a question every time that I buy food for my bird feeders.

 

Is it cheaper to buy bird food online or locally from a store?

 

Personally, I love supporting local businesses with my money. But it’s also incredibly convenient to buy birdseed online from Amazon at 11 pm on Sunday night while in my pajamas drinking bourbon.

 

I am in my early thirties, a “millennial” and a little biased toward thinking buying anything online is going to be cheaper than going to a local store. But I always feel a twinge of guilt when ordering things on the Internet because I prefer that my money stays in our community.

 

It was time to run a series of experiments to find the cheapest place to buy bird food and birdseed.

 

cheapest place to buy bird food

 

Here is what I did:

 

I visited six local stores, which included everything from pet stores to grocery stores to hardware stores, to compare the price in the store vs. the price I could find online.

 

I had a few guidelines that I followed while conducting this experiment:

 

1. To make a proper comparison, the brand of the bird food had to be the same. It’s unfair to compare sunflower seed from Company A at a local store vs. sunflower seed from Company B online. The quality of birdseed can differ significantly from company to company, depending on how and where it was harvested.

 

2. The bag size of the bird food had to be the same. So if I found a 25-pound bag of black oil sunflower from Company A at my local hardware store, then it had to be compared against the same 25-pound bag from Company A online.

 

3. To compare in-store prices against the prices available online, I tried to use Amazon whenever possible. This is because most people think of Amazon first when trying to find the lowest prices available online. I thought it best to compare local prices against the Internets biggest giant! Also, Amazon typically has free shipping, which I love.

 

One last thing before we dig into the 9 case studies below:

 

Prices constantly change! The prices you see below are what they were the day this article was published. I intend to keep this article updated periodically, but reader and buyer beware! I will include links where applicable to check the current online prices.

 

Are you ready???

 


Case Study # 1: Black Oil Sunflower Seed

 

I thought it would be best to start with black oil sunflower seed because it’s the most popular and common bird food offered in feeders.

 

I found this 10-pound bag of Audubon Park black oil sunflower seed at my local grocery store.

 

best prices to buy bird food

 

In case you can’t see the price tag below, purchasing at the grocery store would cost $9.99.

 

A quick search on Amazon shows that buying the same 10-pound bag cost $20.34.  View Current Price

 

Wow! I was a bit shocked to see that buying locally from my grocery store (of all places!) was half the cost of purchasing online.

 

We have a clear winner from the first case study!

 

Buying Local = 1 , Buying Online = 0

 

 


Case Study #2: Sunflower Hearts/Chips

 

For the second test, we are going to stay at the same grocery store and use the same brand.

 

But this time let’s take a look at sunflower hearts and chips.

 

cheapest place to buy bird food

 

Audubon Park Sunflower Chips (5 lbs)

 

Grocery Store: $11.99

 

Amazon: $23.40  Check Current Price

 

Incredible! That’s a savings of almost 50%. Buying local has jumped out to an early lead.

 

Buying Local = 2 , Buying Online = 0

 


Case Study #3: Safflower Seed

 

This case study will feature safflower purchased from my local pet store, Pet Supplies Plus.

 

best price bird food

 

Kaytee Safflower Seed (5lbs)

 

Pet Store: $8.98

 

Amazon: $13.50  Check Current Price

 

Once again, buying local saves a significant amount of money (33%).

 

Buying Local = 3, Buying Online = 0

 


Case Study #4: Nyjer Seed

 

I went to the closest Home Depot to check out their bird food selection. One of the products they carried was a 10-pound bag of Wagner’s nyjer seed. This caught my eye because I know for a fact that I have ordered the 5-pound bag on Amazon before.

 

cheapest price bird food

 

Wagner’s Nyjer Seed (10 lbs)

 

Home Depot: $18.98

 

Amazon: $21.98  Check Current Price

 

Buying local wins again and saves about 14%. At least these prices were similar, unlike the first 3 case studies.

 

Buying Local = 4, Buying Online = 0

 

 


Case Study #5: Nyjer Seed Finch Socks

 

While at Pet Supplies Plus, I noticed they carried these Kaytee Finch Socks. I have ordered this twin pack from Amazon before, so I was excited to compare prices.

 

where to buy birdseed?

 

Kaytee Nyjer Seed Finch Sock (Twin Pack)

 

Pet Store: $7.98

 

Amazon: $12.03  Check Current Price

 

This competition is quickly turning into a blowout. (~33% savings buying local)

 

Buying Local = 5, Buying Online = 0

 


Case Study #6: Peanuts

 

To be honest, the inspiration for this post came while shopping at Sam’s Club. I was there on my lunch break purchasing diapers when I came across the below 5-pound bag of peanuts from Hampton Farms.

 

What blew me away was that a 5-pound bag only cost $5.68. For the past few months, I have been buying this EXACT bag on Amazon to feed the Blue Jay’s in my backyard, and I knew that it has been costing me significantly more!

 

lowest price for seeds for birds

 

Hampton Farms Peanuts (5 lb)

 

Sam’s Club: $5.68

 

Amazon: $16.98     Check Current Price

 

What a huge price difference (67%)! Seriously, this enormous discrepancy is what initially got me curious about what was cheaper, buying local or online.

 

Buying Local = 6, Buying Online = 0

 


Case Study #7: Mealworms

 

My backyard birds love when I put mealworms out as a treat and will quickly eat them all!

 

And since mealworms seem to be the most expensive bird food by weight, I was very interested to find the cheapest place to buy them.

 

I have been purchasing freeze-dried mealworms on Amazon, assuming this must be the cheapest place to buy. To compare prices, I was able to find the same brand and size that I typically purchase on Amazon at the pet store.

 

cheapest bird food

 

Kaytee Mealworms (7-Ounce)

 

Pet Store: $6.98

 

Amazon: $9.20   Check Current Price

 

Buying from a store saves 25% on mealworms.

 

Buying Local = 7, Buying Online = 0

 


Case Study #8: General Bird Seed Mix

 

The last two case studies will feature two general bird seed mixes from different retailers.

 

This first one is the Kaytee Songbird blend (5 lbs). I found this at another local pet store (Pet’s Mart).

 

lowest price and cheapest bird seed

 

Kaytee Songbird Blend (5 lbs)

 

Pet Store: $9.99

 

Amazon: $17.60   Check Current Price

 

Another case study with the same result. Buying locally would save about 43% instead of buying this birdseed blend online.

 

Buying Local = 8, Buying Online = 0

 


Case Study #9: General Bird Seed Mix

 

To finish this experiment, I decided to head to Wild Birds Unlimited. They are a national franchise that specializes in bird feeding products, seeds, and foods.

 

Below is there popular “No-Mess Plus Blend” that features sunflower chips, shelled peanuts, and a few other foods that don’t have shells.

 

where should I buy bird food from?

 

Wild Birds Unlimited No-Mess Plus Blend (20 lbs)

 

Local WBU Store: $45.99 (it’s only $39.09 if you are part of their discount club)

 

WBU.com: $48.99 (plus ~$15.00 for shipping!)   Check Today's Price 

 

Once again, it’s cheaper to buy at the local store instead of ordering online. These results were similar for all the other bird foods that Wild Birds Unlimited offers (sunflower, nyjer, suet, etc.).

 

Buying Local = 9, Buying Online = 0

 


Related Articles:

The 14 Best Bird Feeders For Your Backyard

50+ Unique and Fun Birdwatching Gifts


Takeaways and Observations:

 

To be honest, the results of this experiment blew me away!

 

Out of the 9 case studies that were performed, it was always cheapest to buy bird seed or food from a local retailer.

Buying from a local store saved an average of over 50%!

 

I am guilty of having a prejudice that buying online was cheaper than heading to a store. I know this is true of other products, but the trend does not seem to apply to bird seed and food.

 

Could it be that the weight of bird food prevents cheap shipping? And does that cost have to be passed to the consumer online?

where should I buy bird seed from?

 

This may be part of the reason for heavier bags of seed. But it just can’t be true for lower weight items such as mealworms or finch socks.

 

Like many other people, I have become addicted to ordering products on Amazon. The free 2-day shipping offered by their Prime membership is incredibly convenient, especially now that we have two young children and going to the store has become increasingly difficult.

 

But part of my preference for ordering on Amazon was because of my (false) assumption that it was also CHEAPER. This experiment has me re-thinking about where we are going to shop, not only for bird food but many other products.

 

It could not have been more clear:

 

Buying bird food from a local store is significantly cheaper than buying online!

 


Questions for you:

 

Here is where I need your help.

 

The results of my experiment were clear. But I live in Akron, Ohio. I’m sure that prices differ all across the United States and the world.

 

  • Where is the best and least expensive place to buy bird food where you live?
    • Please make sure to share if you live outside the United States!

 

  • Is there a cheaper website than Amazon to order bird seed online?

 

Thanks for reading!

 

Scott

 

22 responses to “Cheapest Place To Buy Bird Food? Online vs Retail! (9 Case Studies)”

  1. Barb says:

    You are right! Thank you!! Even with shipping (got my total 70lb order of seeds for $5 UPS shipping), I am getting a better deal than either Amazon or buying local fr many seeds. Safflower is currently on sale at $9.99 for a 10lb bag if you go to their current ad. I have been paying $1.60 a pound for a 5lb bag via Prime. Whole corn is pretty cheap, too, at $0.65lb.

  2. cindy says:

    We get 40# bags of black oil sunflower from Lowe’s, runs around 20 bucks. Sunflower chips from Walmart, 5.5 lbs for 6.50. Suet from Walmart runs around a dollar apiece. Now, the mealworms I do buy online from Amazon as it’s the cheapest I’ve found, Hatortemp 5 lbs for $24.

  3. Sam says:

    Try here: https://www.countrymax.com/bulk/
    As noted, shipping can climb if ordering a lot but I’ve found that you can’t beat the bulk pricing CountryMax offers.

  4. Jeanne Vaughn says:

    I buy my 20 lb bags of birdseed from True Value. It’s close and cheap

  5. Barb says:

    i buy a lot from Amazon via links on your site. But, I do buy a 40lb bag of Wagner’s Black Oil Sunflower seeds at Home Depot for $20.48.I store it in my garage in a garbage can, lol. Also, I buy mealworms in bulk… a 5lb bag for $24.99. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07MJJQFDC/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o05_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    I also buy 5lb bag of Wagners Safflower seeds for around $6 on Amazon ( I usually get 2 at a time)…….. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004477AOO/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o04_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    I always look for better deals. I guess it’s the convenience of free shipping from Amazon Prime that lures me in. Sometimes, I just don’t have the time to drive to 6 different places to get what I want.

    Walmart or the local co-op run good deals on cracked corn in bulk but I have found that many times, you have to wait at least a month for the order. However, the cracked corn link you have is the better price.

    I live in Knoxville, TN.

  6. Deborah Ferra Sines says:

    I live in Perry Ohio and the Tractor Supply is by far the cheapest for good quality bird seed!

  7. Sarahkate says:

    I am in western Oregon and new to feeding wild birds on my small farm (and still seeking the most affordable binocs that are usable for people with shaky hands!). We have a chain store in the Pacific NW called Bi-Mart which has a $5 lifetime membership and THE most amazing discounts on everything from farm supplies (including all types of wild and domestic bird food) to cookware and all types of household supplies and electronics and canned/packaged human foods. Bi-Mart is the only store locally where I’ve found the Audubon “Trail Mix” which seems to attract the most varieties of birds. I formerly fed a locally packaged and very affordable “critter crunch” which kept both the birds and the squirrels very happy but unfortunately tended to attract possum which I really, really do not want in my yard – they can stay in the old barn at the far end of the property, thank you very much. If you are in the Pacific NW I highly recommend Bi-Mart for their reasonable everyday pricing on a good variety of bird food as well as really good and very frequent sales.

  8. Marie says:

    I’m in Ohio & I’ve found the local grain elevator or co-op, if they sell it, have the best prices. I order online for free pick-up & they load it into the car. The variety of brands may be limited but the quality is good. Previously, Menards was my choice for variety & price and is still the best price on suet cakes. The Wildlife Sciences case of 10 is $6.90 & I’ve bought them for $3.90 on sale.
    The birds like them & I go thru quite a few cases with only 2 of those simple green suet feeders.
    Just started feeding & watching last year.

    • Scott says:

      They built a Menards in Cuyahoga Falls over the past year and I get a lot of food there now because it’s so close to the house. Thanks for sharing!

  9. nicole wolf gilbert says:

    thank you for doing all this research….I’m in Maine but I’m betting it’s no different here!

    • Scott says:

      You’re welcome! I find this is still very true today, much cheaper to buy at local stores, more convenient to buy and shipped to my house.

  10. ML says:

    Love this page! Thanks so much for sharing your research. I haven’t fed the wild birds in quite some time but really do like seeing them in the backyard so I’m trying to get back into it. Literally decades ago I had a place nearby in an industrial park that was reasonably priced but I haven’t surfaced them in any searches yet. I order petfood from Chewy.com so I’ll compare their wild birdseed with Walmart. Sam’s sells the unshelled peanuts for $5 or $6 so it’s nice to know that I’m getting a great price buying from them.

  11. Gary says:

    Chewy has a fair assortment.
    The convenience is outstanding, as is turnaround time.

    • Scott says:

      Hey Gary. Thanks for sharing. I had heard of Chewy.com but never ordered anything. I just tried them out thanks to your advice. Prices seem very reasonable!

  12. Susan says:

    Walmart is a good place for birdseed at decent prices. Here in northern Virginia there’s a good selection and you can order online for free pickup if it’s not stocked. Pennington 7lb safflower seed is $9.99. Think there’s a 5lb for $7.99 also. Starlings have been mobbing my feeder so happy to find this info. Hope it deters them!
    Thanks.

    • Scott says:

      Did you have any luck with the safflower seed? I have never tried Wal-Mart for seed, but a Menards recently opened near us and I have been finding competitive prices there.

  13. Chaya Appel says:

    this is fascinating. I recently got a bird feeder. Since their aren’t any bird shops really local (brooklyn, NY) I was relying on Amazon, but now that I’m seeing this I’m thinking it may be worth a trip to get seed if it’s so much cheaper.

  14. Lori Cohen says:

    Hi Scott,

    I appreciate the info! I’m in Dayton and shop at Kroger but I am going to compare what you have and see how similar prices are. I’ve been looking for bulk peanuts so I’ll have to give Sam’s/ Costco a try. Will post any interesting findings! Thanks again!

  15. Jay says:

    Is this a slam Amazon blog? You did not state the local bird food store you visited and my own search could not find local prices even close to your quotes. Doesn’t seem very accurate.

    • Scott says:

      Actually, I love Amazon! But in my limited test, it was not the cheapest place to buy bird food (but is most convenient). Just curious, which specific product did I mention that you found cheaper on Amazon vs. in the store? Which store? Also, the grocery store that I visited was Giant Eagle. This is a regional grocery chain in the midwest so I didn’t think it was relevant to include the name since it does not apply to most of the country or international visitors. Thanks for reading!

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